A Battle of Ranked Teams: Wyoming Wrestling Hosts North Dakota State on Saturday

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From Henry Endicott

Wyoming Athletic Department

LARAMIE – The 21st-ranked Wyoming wrestling team returns home this weekend for a top-25 Big 12 showdown against No. 19 North Dakota State. The dual is set for Saturday at 5 p.m. inside the Arena-Auditorium as the second part of a double-header with the Cowgirl basketball team.

“We saw them out in Vegas, and they have a much different team this year than they had last year,” head coach Mark Branch said. “It will be interesting. We went up there last year and actually had a really good dual, but we’re a way different team and they are too so I don’t really know what to expect.

“There are a lot of new guys in their lineup that we’ve been watching film on, and they have a consistent style so that’s something that we have talked about and will continue to practice on. We don’t want to necessarily change the focus of what we’re doing, but maybe add in a wrinkle or two to get ready for this.”

The Cowboys are coming off an 11th-place finish at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational last weekend. The Pokes finished the weekend with 64.5 team points, tied with No. 11 Virginia Tech and finishing ahead of No. 15 Northwestern, No. 16 Cornell and No. 18 Illinois. Cowboy wrestlers Montorie Bridges (6th), Sam Turner (8th), Branson Ashworth (5th) and Brian Andrews (7th) were among top-eight finishers.

The Bison enter Saturday’s dual with the Cowboys ranked No. 19 in the NWCA Coaches Poll and 22nd in the Intermat Dual Rankings. NDSU opened the 2018-19 season with three-straight wins, including a 26-17 win over then-No. 17 Northwestern to open the year. In their last time out, the Bison edged Big 12 foe Fresno State, 21-20, on the road. NDSU is led by a trio of ranked wrestlers -- No. 8 Brent Fleetwood (125), No. 15 Cam Sykora (133) and No. 13 Andrew Fogarty (165). The Bison are coached by Roger Kish, in his seventh season at the helm of the program with a 64-49 record.

The Cowboys and Bison will be meeting for the 19th time in the two schools’ histories on Saturday. The series dates back to 1990. Wyoming leads the series currently, holding an 11-. That total includes a 5-4 record in matches contested in Laramie.

Fans can stream all of the action this weekend live on FloWrestling. Live scoring will be available on Trackwrestling. Fans can also follow live updates on Twitter at @WyoWrestle.